FRA Rescinds Rail Crew Size Mandate

The Association of American Railroads' president and CEO says the federal agency's decision recognizes that recent years have been the safest in rail history and railroads are committed to deploying new technologies to increase their safety.

The Association of American Railroads' president and CEO, Ian Jefferies, has released a statement praising the decision by the Federal Railroad Administration that there is no safety rationale for a rule requiring two employees in the cab of every locomotive -- and any law regarding crew size is preempted. According to AAR, the decision recognizes that recent years have been the safest in rail history and railroads are committed to deploying new technologies to increase their safety.

"AAR and its member railroads are gratified that the FRA rescinded this unjustified proposal and confirmed what it acknowledged from the start: there is no evidence to justify regulating minimum train crew size as a matter of safety," Jefferies said in the statement. "Both Secretary Chao and Administrator Batory have made clear that safety is of paramount concern, new technologies can be powerful tools for achieving safety, and overly prescriptive regulations can chill innovation. FRA's careful, evidence-driven conclusion that there is no safety justification to lock railroads into their current crew size practices is consistent with these policies and recognizes the technology revolution occurring throughout the railroad industry.

"Positive Train Control – new technologies designed to prevent certain types of human error and a top priority of the administration – is one game-changer; others not yet imagined may follow. Allowing railroads the flexibility to adjust their operations to reflect the capabilities of technologies like PTC will help advance railroads' mission to achieve an accident-free future." he continued. "Train crew size has been a matter of collective bargaining between railroads and their employees for decades. Over that time, the safety of train operations has steadily improved even as crew sizes have been reduced, through the bargaining process, from five or more down to today's standard of two – and in some cases, one. Today's action by the FRA directs federal and state lawmakers to stop pushing crew size legislation and let railroads maintain that record of bargaining with their dedicated and professional workforce to continue to modernize rail operations while enhancing safety."

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    October 2019

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